Sometimes Parental Love Is Meant To Hurt

It behooves a father to be blameless if he expects his child to be.  ~Homer

Today is my third favorite religious holiday (behind Labor Day and Halloween).1 Today2 is a perfect time to talk about love. There are five types of love:

– Eros (ἔρως érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “(romantic) love”. However, eros does not have to be sexual in nature.

– Philia (φιλία philía), which means friendship in modern Greek, a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity.

– Agapē (ἀγάπη agápē) means “love” in modern-day Greek, such as in the term s’agapo (Σ’αγαπώ), which means”I love you”. In Ancient Greek it often refers to a general affection rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”; agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one’s children, and the feelings for a spouse.

– Storge (στοργή storgē) means “affection” in modern Greek; it is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family.

– Thelema (θέλημα thélēma) means “desire” in modern Greek; it is the desire to do something, to be occupied, to be in prominence.

I want to focus on Storge (στοργή storgē) and how parents “love” their children. Specifically, I want to focus on parental love through discipline. Aish.com, which is a Jewish content website, describes “discipline” as thus:

Discipline is a process of setting limits on our children’s behavior and enforcing those limits in a loving and consistent way. It is a way of letting children know there are rules that need to be followed and ways of correct behavior that need to be learned. Discipline also teaches our children to accept authority.

This acceptance of authority is the important part, especially if you contemplate the role the governments’ and law enforcements’ response to the Occupy movement recently. The authorities want the Occupy protestors to know that repressive responses to protests are a sign of their love, and the discipline shown by law enforcement is a sign of this love.

This parental love, as expressed by the authorities and law enforcement, has gone viral with the following picture:

David Harris Gershon argues in the Daily Kos that this image has gone viral because it “visually” represents a “growing unease” of Americans with the government’s and law enforcement’s “anti-democratic” and “totalitarian-esk” actions against the Occupy movement. Additionally, Gershon argues that this image hasn’t gone viral because Americans are naive to the reality of Russian (Putin) “politically-motivated, large-scale and repressive police crackdowns.” The Russian protesters in this picture were arrested and were participating in protests that were violently stopped by Russian riot police. Instead, Gershon argues that this picture represents “the repressive police tactics many Americans have come to expect from regimes such as Putin’s are now showing up on our own public streets and in our public squares, and that fact is revelatory.”

This analysis, however, is short-sighted. Repressive police tactics, authorized by American governments, is not “now showing up on our own public streets and in our public squares.” This sort of action is actually an American historical legacy.

– Haymarket Riot: In May 1884, Chicago police officers killed four McCormick Harvesting Machine Company striking workers. The day after, a peaceful demonstration in Chicago’s Haymarket Square became violent when a bomb exploded and killed eight police officers. In a similar vein, in July 1934, San Francisco police used extreme tactics that involved attacking picketing longshoremen. Two picketers were killed in this event and the word “police riot” was coined following the criticism of this 1934 police action against strikers.3

– Tompkins Square Park Riot: In August 1988, a riot erupted in Tompkins Square Park in the Lower East Side New York when police, some mounted on horseback, attempted to enforce a newly passed curfew for the park. Bystanders, artists, residents, homeless people, reporters, and political activists were caught up in the police action that took place during the night of August 6–7. Videotape evidence, provided by onlookers and participants, showed seemingly unprovoked violent acts by the police, as well as a number of officers having covered up or removed their names and badge numbers from their uniforms.4

– World Trade Organization Conference Riot: In 1999, Seattle riot police used clubs, tear gas and projectiles to violently disperse groups of protesters, anarchists, and anti-capitalists. Interestingly, the New York Times erroneously reported that the protesters threw Molotov cocktails at Seattle police officers, and had to make a correction. However, the original error persisted in mainstream media accounts.5

Storge(στοργή storgē), parental love, and love through discipline is about showing who is in charge. On this day as you are passing out little candy hearts be sure to remember that there is a cop out there (with a ton of history behind them) waiting to show you a little love. Personally, I like how phallic billy clubs are.

1. Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae). Google their names to get their histories. No romantic elements are present in the original early medieval biographies of either of these martyrs. By the time a Saint Valentine became linked to romance in the 14th century, distinctions between Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were utterly lost. (Thanks Wikipedia for making my research so easy on this sorta holy of sorta holy days.)

2. Today is when Hallmark and other companies are making an ass-load of money by providing dudes with a supposed surefire way in getting laid.

3. Source and Walker, Samuel (1977). A Critical History of Police Reform: The Emergence of Professionalism. Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books. p. 147,  Walker Report summary, The Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial Historical Documents Federal Judicial Center.

4. Source and  “Yes, a Police Riot,” editorial of The New York Times, August 26, 1988, Section A; Page 30, Column 1; Editorial Desk.

5. Source 1 and source 2.

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